Microsoft Drafts Consumers In Fight Against Software Piracy: Carrot And Stick 06/12/2009 by Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)US software giant Microsoft said Thursday that users globally have started to join the fight against software piracy by sending in over 150,000 reports about problems with fake Microsoft products over the last two years. On Microsoft’s Consumer Action Day, the Redmond, Washington software company announced 200 legal actions and raids, educational and informational projects, held press conferences with governments and industry associations and hammered its message to the international press: users not only lose by by rising amounts of pirated software, but also face risks to their IT security. “It may not be about life and death as with fake medicine,” Swantje Richters, corporate attorney at Microsoft Germany, said at a 3 December press roundtable in Munich. “But if an intensive care unit machine were to fail because of fake software with a virus in it, it’s getting close.” Fake medicine, fake Gucci bags and pirated software – all the same? “In principle, yes,” said the Microsoft experts at the Munich roundtable. “In all these cases, companies invested in their intellectual property that is infringed,” said Jutta Herzog, anti-piracy lead at Microsoft in Germany. Herzog explained Microsoft’s effort to bring the “IP issue” to German schools for which Microsoft offers teaching materials to explain how it hurts when “their intellectual property is taken away by somebody else.” So far, it is “uncool” for students to have legal software, as the hacked version is seen as much cooler, the Microsoft experts said. Actions for schools and universities also were reported from China, Greece, Slovenia and Lebanon. Also some partnerships with academic institutions or grants for students in IP law are on the long list. More training was targeted to law enforcement (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Cyprus, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Hong Kong) and judges (Hungary, Bahrain, Egypt). Special public-private “Anti-Piracy Treaties” were signed by Microsoft and other industry players like the US-based Business Software Alliance along with government authorities in Guatemala, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Panama. And with regard to enforcement, raids were staged in half a dozen countries, the biggest in China. In Russia, Microsoft announced 27 cases against resellers that were involved in the sale of thousands of illegal software copies. In Germany, 10 civil right complains and two criminal law complaints were announced. Microsoft at the same time tried to underline that they they are prepared to announce that users that were unknowingly buying fake software are eligible to receive free legally licensed products from Microsoft – another carrot in addition to the enforcement stick. Yet the tricked consumers have to give proof showing their receipt and a statutory declaration about the transaction, and they have to hand over the wrong product. Those who bought online are excluded, Richters said. Meanwhile, the growing influence of private companies like Microsoft over the issue of enforcement of intellectual property rights is leading to concerns of non-governmental and academic groups in the Arab world for example. Several regional experts expressed their concerns to Intellectual Property Watch. They are afraid that development, fair use and access to knowledge aspects might go under when governments side with only one of several stakeholders and academic activities are sponsored heavily by IPR owners. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Monika Ermert may be reached at email@example.com."Microsoft Drafts Consumers In Fight Against Software Piracy: Carrot And Stick" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.